I have a good feeling about 2018. It started off to a good start with some relaxing days down south with Matt and a chance to reflect on some things I liked, and some things I didn’t like in 2017.
Don’t get me wrong, 2017 was probably the best year of my life in so many ways. Matt finished university (hurrah - two salaries!), I did a good job at work (I’m coming at you with a blog on how to do a side-hustle while working full time soon so make sure you subscribe to my mailing list so you don’t miss it), I made great leaps in The Residents, hitting 100 interviews and 10,000 Instagram followers, and I met so many incredible like-minded people.
But it was also a year of frustrations. I tried to work to engage with certain people and at times it felt like shouting at a wall. I would have sent too many emails than I can remember (I deliberately don’t) where I never got a response. But by far and away the worst part was the struggle I faced with losing motivation around April and then again in September.
Changing My Schedule To Be More Flexible
Some of you might have noticed that although I went to New Zealand fashion week, I never really blogged about the experience. I have been toying with the notion for months (and I plumped for an Auckland City Guide, in the end, an interview with Jerome from amazing ‘Not For You’ fashion label from Wellington) but I don’t know if Fashion Week was really for me.
That week, I woke in a panic at 4 am on Wednesday morning after seeing some shows on Tuesday night and felt vastly inadequate in how I blog. I felt like I needed to change and that the reason I might be missing out on things was that I wasn’t commercial enough and having a blog specific to Wellington would never scale (and let’s be honest, probably won’t). People ask me all the time whether I want to go full-time blogging and I always say I can’t really answer the question because that would be about me and my personal goals, not the blog. My aim has always to get this to be the best blog it can possibly be and after seeing the sea of Louis Vuitton bags and Valentino Rock Studs at fashion week, a cool crowd I knew nothing about and sitting right at the back of some of the shows (when even if you feel okay with that intellectually, it still makes you feel like you are a peasant), I honestly wondered whether I was in the wrong game.
Luckily, that was a catalyst for changing the way I blog for the better, and making some important gains in my understanding of creativity. I decided that I simply couldn’t stay strictly to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday and sometimes Saturday 7 am schedule I’d set myself on top of full-time work. I realised that after almost two years of being very disciplined to get off the ground, I needed to face up to the fact I was not happy doing this anymore in the way I had where I’d stress on a Sunday night if I wasn’t ready to deliver. So, with much nervousness, I chose to put some flexibility into my schedule. And it turned out no one gave two figs!
I’ve found that I am so much better for my choice and it helped the blog come to the end of the year swinging. While I still was posting every 2-3 (well maybe 2 - 4) days for the most part, I felt a huge sense of relief. I no longer needed to be chastising myself for posting on a Tuesday rather than a Monday and I also found that the time I spent not blogging re-invigorated my creativity. Re-watching Titanic with Matt, enjoying a meal out without the pressure to go home and write at home and accepting that regular videos weren’t going to be a thing in 2017 made me improve the quality of the content I did output.
Dealing with Cheats N' Garbage on Instagram
Another major downer in 2017 was the prevalence of people on Instagram artificially inflating their stats with buying followers and using plugins for automation of commenting and liking.
Ultimately, I asked UK Influencer Marketing expert Nik Speller (a real inspiration) from Three Letters Agency about how not to get bugged when it came to seeing people you know using cheating methods to fraudulently bolster their following. He says that ultimately, that person will lose because the engagement isn’t genuine and they can’t sustain it long term. Instagram also shut down many automating sites, but like the game 'whack-a-mole', you can’t keep them from popping up again elsewhere.
If you ever want to do due diligence on someone, I’d recommend looking at Social Blade to see if that person has odd activity on their ‘Following’ page under detailed stats. If someone if following 1k people and that then jumped to 3k, and then dropped back down to 1k again all within a week, safe to say that that person is cheating. I believe success on social media should be about skill and talent, not gaming the system. I’ll stick to my guns on this and keep on pushing blogging with integrity.
I also had a bit of an odd time around September when a few people I was acquainted with in the Wellington scene blocked my account on Instagram. I still have zero idea what that was all about (I've never blocked anyone unless they were rude or creepy). Two have since unblocked me but the whole thing was quite puzzling as a 28-year-old woman and it felt very high school like being back on MSN messenger all over again.
Although I should have laughed it off, just like MSN days, I probably over-thought it a bit, looking for a reason why I could have put a target on the back of my head. At school and when someone would say something mean, I’d just go into shock and had nothing good to say back (world’s smallest violin for Lucy, please). I did the same all these years later.
Now, with a new year, I truly can laugh and say it was all a bit silly but at the time I did take it personally. Just remember, if you feel garbage about someone who’s blocked you on social media and you don’t know why that's okay and normal. Talk about it with people you love and trust and don’t bottle it up inside, letting it fester. Also, you are special and beautiful - so screw them!
Work/Life Balance? Are you there? It's me, Lucy?
Over my break, I had time to reflect on the pace of last year and I’ve concluded that in 2018 things need to change a bit. The Residents started in part with me needing something to do when Matt was studying in part. While the strict consistency on particular days really mattered at first to help get me established, I’ll be more relaxed this year in how I produce my content and focus on quality rather than quantity. Some weeks, I might not have a resident of Wellington interview. Some weeks I might have two blog posts and a video. Others I might have two videos and an interview. I’ll be aiming to keep content at 3 pieces a week most days, but I also want to make sure that, as the wise Carmen Huter has said, I “Share to live, don’t live to share”. Sometime in 2017, it felt like I was living to share, and I think that spontaneous trips, catch up with friends and getting 8 hours of sleep need to be prioritised over chaining myself to my laptop (ps there is a Resident interview coming next week and it is a cracker).
In all honesty, I got quite lonely at times last year, and really am ready to re-surface and see people without my phone attached to my hand this year. I think it will be better for me, better for the blog and less boring for you guys in the long run. As the world grows more aware of the benefits and drawbacks of modern technology it is so important to be in control of technology, rather than allow technology to control us. Black mirror? Yeah, pretty scary but some days it feels like it could already be happening.
Instead, in 2018 I want to take a different twist. I want to play football on the beach with Matt. I want to go for runs. I want to spend time with family and leave my phone behind and book baches away and not blog about them. I’ll be taking photos of friends and not sharing them on social media (always). I can’t wait to take my learnings from 2017 and make 2018 better.
What did you learn from 2017?